Argentina steps up search for missing submarine carrying 44

This 2014 photo provided by the Argentina Navy shows the ARA San Juan, a German-built diesel-electric vessel, docked in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina's Navy said Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, it has lost contact with its ARA San Juan submarine off the country's southern coast. (Argentina Navy via AP ) –The Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s Navy said Saturday it was ramping up the search for a submarine that hadn’t been heard from in three days, and at least six other nations said they would join in the effort.

Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said that the area being searched off the country’s southern Atlantic coast has been doubled as concerns about the 44 crew members grew.

“We are not discounting any hypothesis,” Balbi said. Possibilities could include “a problem with communications” or with its power system, he said.

Authorities last had contact with the German-built diesel-electric sub, the ARA San Juan, on Wednesday as it was on a voyage from the extreme southern port of Ushuaia to Mar del Plata.

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President Mauricio Macri said in a tweet that the country will use “all resources national and international that are necessary to find the submarine.”

From the Vatican, Argentine Pope Francis said he was making “fervent prayers” for the crew.

Pledges of help came from Chile, Uruguay, Peru and Brazil, as well as the United States, which sent a NASA scientific aircraft and a Navy plane. Britain was sending a polar exploration vessel, the HMS Protector, which British officials said should arrive Sunday.